For many years, Steven and I have been quietly celebrating Chinese New Year's in our Port Orford home. Most of the time, I prepare a couple of traditional dishes for us to feast on while we reminisce about our many Asian friends, including our "adopted" daughters living in China and Japan. Frequently, we vocalize a desire to drive to San Francisco to participate in their world-famous New Year's activities but have always let go of this dream thinking that Chinatown would be simply too crowded during this holiday for us to enjoy.
However, we were determined to make 2017 our year to be a part of a Chinese New Year's celebration and, after much debate about the sanity of doing so, we headed up to Vancouver, BC, where 100,000 spectators typically line the New Year's parade route.
Fearless as we are from time to time, we found ourselves waking up Sunday morning in this lovely coastal seaport and planning to head for the parade. Unfortunately, due to sleeping late and being turned off by the drizzly weather, we missed much of it.
Yet, the lion dancers that roamed the streets of Chinatown, the surprise appearance of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau on the street corner where we were standing along with the many performances at the Asian Mall by cute kids and graceful dancers and entertainers, all these things more than made up for the loss of viewing the entire parade.
Later in the day we attended the Chinese Benevolent Society's dinner marking the start of the Year of the Rooster at the Floata Seafood Restaurant where we and 999 (yes, there were 1,000 people scheduled to be in attendance at the banquet) of our closest friends and acquaintances were quite overwhelmed by the abundance of dishes. Delicious food started arriving at our table around 6:30 and when we left at 10:00 the waitstaff was still serving more entrees. Although we really wanted to sample the desserts, we were simply done in by the bounty and extravagance of the evening and had to head back to the hotel!
Our dinner experience the night before at The Fish Shack was in stark contrast to this banquet. For at The Fish Shack there was a focus on intimacy and preparation of singular dishes.
We have to tip our hats to serendipity, that magical force that is frequently the traveler's strongest ally! In this case, it was serendipity that led us us Pho 99.
We were on our way to Canada and suddenly realized that the gas gauge was dipping dangerously close to empty. Needless to say, we quickly pulled off the freeway in order to fuel up. Little did we know that there would be a great pho restaurant within eye sight of the gas station!
Pho Lavang: a welcoming place with memorable Salt & Pepper Squid!
Finding ourselves in Lake Oswego on yet another dark and drizzly January evening, we were quickly attracted to Pho Lavang. Its bright and cheery building perched alongside Boones Ferry Road immediately caught our eye.
As we approached the front entrance, we noticed that the restaurant was about ready to close. Hesitantly, we opened the door to inquire if it was too late for a quick dinner. To our delight, we were warmly greeted by the owner. "No problem," he graciously announced, "come on in and enjoy yourselves." Now, that's a warm welcome any time, but we found it especially appealing on this dreary January night.
This past week on Steven's birthday we made a return visit to Siri Thai on busy Powell Boulevard, in justified anticipation of another scrumptious meal. We'd lunched there on previous occasions, always walking away pleased with the cheerful and efficient service, the lovely interior made especially noteworthy by its cleanliness and the large number of orchids in bloom, along with the beautifully prepared cuisine that consistently left us content and satisfied with our choices.
As usual, Siri did not disappoint. The wait staff welcomed us with generous smiles and a recollection of our previous visit, even pointing out that on our past visit (at least a month ago!) we'd just been to the Benjamin Moore paint store across the street before arriving at Siri for lunch.
Thursday was a warm and lazy afternoon, and we started off with the Appetizer Special of the Day which was a tempura plate of squid, carrot and broccoli pieces with the house special sauce. It was so delicious that we decided to have an appetizer lunch and ordered the Combo Appetizer Plate of: 3 egg rolls, 3 blanket shrimp, 3 crab puffs & 2 salad rolls, accompanied by both the house specialty sauce and a velvety peanut sauce, along with an iced Thai coffee, my personal, mid-day favorite beverage. Soon simply marvelous tidbits of food filled our table!
We’d spent the day playing tourist at Mt. Rushmore and then motoring down into Custer State Park. We hadn’t planned to invest much time in Custer, after all, the trip was beginning to take its toll on us, and we were getting a little road weary. However, when we entered the park and were immediately surrounded by about 80 of the 1,000 bison that call it home, our agenda quickly changed, and we spent the rest of the day being wooed by the variety and quantity of wildlife in this amazing 71,000 acre park.
Bison were plentiful in Custer State Park and dining was delightful in Lead.
We knew that we were in the right restaurant the minute we walked in, when we observed that the menu featured a cover illustration of a dog leaping thru grasses and a logo that read: Celebrate like someone forgot to lock the gate.
We were caught off guard by the hustle and bustle of Lloydminster, a booming town of about 30,000 citizens near the eastern border of Alberta that seemed to a gathering spot for every retail store and eatery known in the civilized world.
Upon arriving at our accommodation for the night, the hotel clerk tried to steer us to the local OJ (Original Joe’s) for dinner, but we begged for another recommendation. The OJ that we’d previously experienced had been too noisy, too dark and simply “too” for our taste.
It was time for another scheduled service on our vehicle, and so we headed to the dealership in Salem, accepting their gracious offer of a loaner car while they performed routine inspections and repairs. By this time it was noonish, and we quickly went off in search of what we hoped would be a splendid lunch spot that would help us forget about the impending service bill. We drove through Salem's core business and government area and over to the convention center, where we spotted Tiga; we looked at each other, agreed that a sushi lunch could be just the nourishment that we needed, and took a chance on this unfamiliar restaurant, hoping that it would turn out to be perfect. And it was.